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Nevill Drury’s “Pathways in Modern Western Magic” – reviewed by John Robert Colombo

Modern Western Magic

Nevill Drury’s “Pathways in Modern Western Magic” is reviewed by John Robert Colombo

This is a hefty and handsome piece of bookmaking, something of a tome, a trade paperback that measures six inches by nine inches. It is bulky for it is one and one-quarter inch thick, with pages glued together rather than stitched, and x+470+6 pages in length. There is an informative introduction, a total of 17 substantial chapters, a section of interesting biographical notes about its contributors (complete with email addresses), and a detailed 27-page index. (The index has a passing reference to Grey Owl, but no reference to P.D. Ouspensky; there is a passing reference to the Great God Pan, but no reference to G.I. Gurdjieff.)

The tome is a collection of accessibly written though unsparingly earnest scholarly papers, each paper with its own endnotes and references, some quite extensive. While there is no list of illustrations, maybe thirty-five black-and-white photographs and drawings appear here and there to illustrate general references in the articles. It is a book to be read intermittently and to be  consulted from time to time, should the reader be interested in what the editor identifies as “modern Western magic” and should the aspect of that topic of interest be covered by one of the book’s contributors.

The publisher is Concrescent Press, a relatively new imprint from Seattle, Washington, founded in the late 1990s but only now commissioning and publishing books that may be described as “esoteric.” I will refrain from  defining that term, or trying to determine its definition by the publisher Sam Webster, but I will quote how he has described the aim of the press: “Our intention is to build a community of practice and scholarship primarily focused on Pagan Magic.” So it seems that Concrescent Press is an activist, semi-academic imprint that is beginning to specialize in the production of quality books of interest about a subject that is marginal in interest and perhaps imaginal in nature.

Scholars, take note: It is open for business! The publisher even offers a short preface which begins like this: “‘Pathways in Modern Western Magic’ launches a new imprint in the Concrescence family of books. This imprint specializes in peer-reviewed works of scholarship in the fields of Esotericism, Pagan religion and culture, Magic, and the Occult. Concrescent Scholars present their views from within and without the Academy. Here will be heard the Voice of the Academic, and also the Voice of the Practitioner, the native of the sometimes alien, sometimes intimate, spaces of the Esoteric.” My attention was caught by the distinction between “academic” and “practitioner” (both curiously capitalized) and I will refer to that distinction or dichotomy later in this review.

In passing, it is interesting to note that one of the imprint’s first publications is Sam Webster’s own title “Tantric Thelema.” So the press seems to have a definite orientation towards Aleister Crowley and “Crowleyanity” and his notion of magic as change in conformity with will. Although the word “concrescent” and its cognate “concrescence” are not widely used, they have a recognized meaning in biology to refer to the “growing together of related parts, tissues, or cells” or simply “the amassing of physical particles, or cells.” It presumably means the opposite of “excrescence”!

A book’s index speaks volumes about that title, and this index supplies a clue concerning who’s who and what’s what. For instance, there are 7 page references to Sigmund Freud; 18 to Carl Jung; 36 to Rose and Aleister Crowley. In the same vein, Consciousness and God run neck to neck with 90 and 91 references respectively, only to be outdone by tireless Time (with 128 references). The highest score goes to Magic/Magick at 271 references, so that for every two pages of the book there is one mention of the magical arts.

What the book’s index describes is dramatized by the book’s table of contents. Simplifying the principle of organization, the reader who stays with the text from page 1 to page 470 will encounter chapters that concentrate on the following subjects or topics: two theoretical considerations of esotericism in the West in our time; two discussions of Wicca; three analyses of what is called “Neo-Shamanism” and “Seidr oracles”; two deliberations about the Golden Dawn and Crowley’s “Thelemic Sex Magick”; one chapter on “Dragon Rouge” or the “Left-Hand Path”; three chapters on the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set, and “the Magical Life of Ithell Colquhoun”; a consideration of “two Chthonic Magical Artists” (Austin Osman Spare and Rosaleen Norton); one section on “Chaos Magics in Britain”; a forward-looking discussion of “Technoshamans and Cybershamans”; and one section on “a Hybridized Tantra Practice.” That is a lot to digest.

For the record, here are the names of the contributors of those chapters (sidestepping the multiple contributions made by the book’s editor): Nevill Drury, Lynne Hume, Dominique Beth Wilson, Nikki Bado, Marguerite Johnson, Andrei A. Znamenski, Robert J. Wallis, Jenny Blain, Thomas Karlsson, James R. Lewis, Don Webb, Amy Hale, Dave Evans, Libuše Martínková, Paul Hine. The majority of these scholars are widely published, they hold advanced degrees (some in interdisciplinary studies), and they mainly teach in departments of Anthropology, History, Humanities, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology, etc., with universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. I did not spot a single psychologist or psychiatrist, or any professor who teaches a course in Literature. (I think the latter is an interesting observation.)

The names of all of the contributors are new to me, including that of Nevill Drury, whom I should have known about, who is described as “an independent researcher whose specialist interests include contemporary Western magic, shamanism and visionary art.” Experienced as a book editor and publisher in his native Australia, he holds a doctorate on the Western esoteric tradition from the University of Newcastle. His book “Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic” was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. He contributes a couple of chapters and writes in a way that is at once accomplished and appealing.

These details may be of incidental interest, but they set the stage for the discussion that follows. To use the distinction introduced by the publisher, the reviewer of this publication who is an Academic would have to relate it to academic publications by Ronald Hutton, Marina Warner, Joscelyn Godwin, Jeffrey J. Kripal, and other distinguished scholars who have contributed original research to the field, especially to the SUNY Press series on Western Occultism, whereas the reviewer who is a Practitioner would find it necessary to relate it to handbooks, manuals, grimoires, and half the books issued by Llewellyn Publications, Samuel Weiser Inc., and Watkins Publishing. It is not often that the twain do meet.

It is unlikely there is a single reader of this review who has this dual background – including the writer of the present review! – so a reasonable course to take here is to comment on each chapter to assure the prospective reader that the book is serious in intent, in interest, and in information. As the same time I have yet to be convinced (a) that there is a single chapter that is indispensable reading for the light it sheds on its subject, and (b) that the chapters dovetail in some unexpected way to form a whole that suggests that there is a paradigm for a new way to understand the subject matter and its supposed cohesiveness. In sum, the value of the collection is about equal to the sum of its parts. 

I have somewhat the same reaction to this book as I had when in 2008 I reviewed for this website Joscelyn Godwin’s The Golden Thread: The Ageless Wisdom of the Western Mystery Traditions. The thread in that title is tangled and frayed and knotted: one thing happens after another without causal connection, though its knowledgeable and perceptive author offered his own “authoritative” voice to the puzzles and the mysteries that he described and discussed. This same problem was faced by Manly P. Hall way back in 1928 when, at the tender age of twenty-seven and all by himself, he researched and published The Secret Teachings of All Ages, which is the great-mother and mother-lode of all such books as these. (I also reviewed Hall’s work for this website.) Perhaps the fault here lies in the nature of the so-called Western tradition of esotericism, which includes magic, for the “tradition” seems to be discontinuous, a helter-skelter of false starts and abrupt stops. There seems to be no transcendent principle at work. Such, anyway, seems to be the fate of books that comprise the library of paradoxography.

Pathways in Modern Western Magic” might better be retitled “Footpaths in Modern Western Magic.” There is something makeshift about the choice of what is included and what is excluded. A “pathway” suggests a well-defined religious goal, like a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, whereas a “footpath” suggests a walk through the woods in Indian file to no discernible destination, though a lot of ground is covered. No mention is made of some related subjects – including psychical research, parapsychology, psychokinesis, imaging techniques, the Algonkian oracular complex, consciousness studies, LSD, neuroimaging, brain research, consciousness studies. For instance, there is a lot that is “magical” and even “magickal” about UFOs, as Jung knew, but not in these pages.

Mythopoesis is short-changed, and the writers fail to turn to the literary imagination to illustrate their points. Perhaps it never occurred to them, though assuredly many of their points were memorably made by poets like William Blake (who goes without a single reference in the index) and Kathleen Raine (who is merely footnoted). It might be said (by me anyway) that Nevill Drury, the editor, is so intent on covering serious subjects of less-than-usual interest, that he neglects popular subjects of more-than-passing interest. To his credit he commissioned the majority of these substantial studies; only a few of which seem to have received prior publication. To the extent that the book is devoted to “magic/magick” in theory and practice – or given the academic tone, to theoria and praxis – it is detailed, and some of the chapters are comprehensive. The historical record gives way to the contemporary record and the 20th and 21st centuries have been rich ones indeed to innovations in this field (or in these pastures). At times I visualized Mages collected around tables and shrines and altars looking for all the world like historical reenactors, thuribles at the ready!

What I really miss are two chapters that should be written: one chapter devoted to contemporary churches in the West with their fundamentalist religious practices which are magical to the core (prophecy, faith-healing, speaking in tongues, revelators, etc.), and another chapter devoted to the depiction (as distinct from the description) of the magical arts in the literature and film of our time and place. But the first chapter would have to be written with great tact, and as for the second chapter, there is probably an unwillingness to regard any of the rituals and relationships and correspondences of these “magicks” as the products of the literary mind and the productions of the fictional imagination. This I feel is a loss (but it is also the subject for another article).

To suggest the seriousness and enthusiasm that are characteristic of this book, here is a survey of it chapter by chapter, with one or two impressions of each chapter, taken almost at random to suggest the richness in research, thought, and expression.

Introduction: Nevill Drury reminds us of the anthropological distinction between “etic” accounts and “emic” accounts — the former being accounts presented from the outside, the latter being accounts presented from the inside. Scholar or practitioner, self-exploration and spiritual renewal, these matters are stressed. The foundation is well and truly laid.

Chapter 1: “Lifting the Veil.” Lynne Hume pursues the characteristics of the “emic” approach and along the way examines altered states of consciousness, emotion, imagination, experience, epistemology, etc. The essential irrationality of magic is understood and not dismissed.

Chapter 2: “The Visual and the Numinous.” Dominique Beth Wilson examines the experience of the “mysterium tremendum et fascinans” that is the basis of Pagan (capitalized) and Neopagan practice. The activities of the Applegrove coven in Sydney, Australia, are described in interesting detail.

Chapter 3: “Encountering the Universal Triple Goddess of Wicca” is a discussion by Nikki Bado of Maiden, Mother, and Crone. There is a detailed consideration of the place of dichotomy and of evolving paradigms. What is required is that we “learn to see the shifting play of light and dark, to see dynamic polarities rather than dichotomies.”

Chapter 4: “Away from the Light.” The dark aspects of the goddess have attracted the attention of Marguerite Johnson who examines in some detail Wicca, Neo-paganism, and Witchcraft. I like the discussion of the primal “egregore” which “denotes a collective force that is made manifest by meditation and ritual.”

Chapter 5: “Neo-Shamanism in the United States,” contributed by Andrei A. Znamenski, mentions Mircea Eliade and Carlos Castaneda but concentrates on Michael Harner and Native American shamanism. The idea is floated that “anti-structure” is “an ideal structure for contemporary educated Westerners, who are too skeptical to commit themselves to group values and who, at the same time, long for spiritual experience.” (This is a variation on the theme of “the religion of no religion” with respect to Esalen.)

Chapter 6: “Neo-Shamanism in Europe.” Robert J. Wallis considers the “construct” of the notion of shamanism which has been part of European consciousness for the last two centuries and part of its practice for millennia. One section-heading reads: “Everyone’s a shaman: Decontextualising and universalising shamans.” There is a reference to “entheogen,” “to inspire the god within,” and the psychedelic nature or component of the experience.

Chapter 7: “Seidr Oracles” is the work of Jenny Blain and it refers to North European shamanistic work. Seers and seeresses here are heavily influenced by the Old Norse sagas, and the chapter introduces words and phrases like “Heathenry and Earth Religions.” Of all the chapters, this one is probably the most descriptive and informative for the lay reader.

Chapter 8: “Magical Practices in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” by Nevill Drury is a one-stop yet quite-thorough history of this most-influential magical order, one that attracted and influenced Aleister Crowley and W.B. Yeats, among other writers. There is much discussion of its Tree of Life, symbolism, correspondences, and visionary practices.

Chapter 9: “The Thelemic Sex Magick of Aleister Crowley” is also by Nevill Drury and it tells the reader all that it is necessary to know about this mage, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and the “elixir” of his “sex magick.” There is more information and theory in these pages than there are details about practice and procedure.

Chapter 10. “The Draconian Tradition” is subtitled “Dragon Rouge and the Left-Hand Path.” Thomas Karlsson discusses the primal forces before creation and by stressing the darker energies holds to the alchemical principle “en to pan” (all is one). Taoism, Tantra, Kundalini, Crazy Wisdom … all these come to mind and to body.

Chapter 11: “Claiming Hellish Hegemony.” James R. Lewis tells – and retells – the story of  Anton La Vey, the Church of Satan, and the “Satanic Bible.” Many times has the story been told, but here the retelling distinguishes between the heroic legend and the sordid fact. The hodge-podge construction of the influential “Satanic Bible” is really quite extraordinary.

Chapter 12: “Modern Black Magic” by Don Webb begins, “When I joined the Temple of Set in 1989.” It discusses the syncretistic nature of the cult or sect’s dogma and ritual and ends “with a few recommendations for further reading.” The Temple seems both authentic and eccentric!

Chapter 13: “The Magical Life of Ithell Colquhoun.” Amy Hale looks at the “innovative spirit” of the artist with the memorable name, placing her initially among the Surrealists, latterly among the Celtic-influenced magicians. It is a sympathetic introduction to her art and texts.

Chapter 14: “Two Chthonic Magical Artists.” Nevill Drury’s sympathies go to the British visionary artist Austin Osman Spare whose work is better known than that of the bohemian Australian witch Rosaleen Norton. Text and illustrations are combined to make memorable introductions to their work.

Chapter 15: “Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted” is the title of Dave Evans’s study of “Chaos magics.” Crowley is a key influence here, but so is relativism and deconstruction and the suggestion that there are times “when Chaos becomes the Norm.”

Chapter 16: “The Computer-Mediated Religious Life of Technoshamans and Cybershamans.” This long-winded title introduces Libuše Martínková and her study of how computers and digital technologies are influencing everything from shamanic practice to lucid dreaming. It ends with a consideration of reality in terms of “the issue of virtuality.”

Chapter 17: “The Magic Wonderland of the Senses” is subtitled “Reflections on a Hybridised Tantra Practice.” Phil Hine looks at Tantra and Shakti and Kali through both occult and scholarly eyes, and decides they require no more “Western universalised esoteric schemas” but “the wider cultural formations of India.”

At one point I took a break from reading the heady descriptive and analytic prose that constitutes “Pathways” to reread “The Circular Ruins,” a short, highly imaginative story written by Jorge Luis Borges. First published in 1941 and widely reprinted, this work of fiction includes a passage in which its unnamed narrator, addressing himself, ponders the “enigmas” of the world. His words capture some of the possibilities of philosophical notions that are taken with the utmost seriousness in “Pathways.”

Here is that passage: “He understood that the task of molding the incoherent and dizzying stuff that dreams are made of is the most difficult work a man can undertake, even if he fathom all the enigmas of the higher and lower spheres – much more difficult than weaving a rope of sand or minting coins of the faceless wind. He understood that initial failure was inevitable.”

The story is readily available in the Penguin Book edition of Jorge Luis Borges’s  “On Mysticism” (2010) edited and introduced by Maria Kodama. It takes the reader farther – and further – along the “footpaths” of “Pathways in Modern Western Magic.” 

John Robert Colombo is an author and anthologist who lives in Toronto and is known as Canada’s “Master Gatherer.” He contributed the Foreword to Eureka Press’s recently published study “Real Worlds of G.I. Gurdjieff” by Paul Beekman Taylor. He has collected the hitherto uncollected short fiction and reminiscences of Sax Rohmer, the creator of Dr. Fu Manchu; the titles of these books are “Pipe Dreams” and “The Crime Magnet.” His website is < >

* * * * * * *

If you liked the above review you may like his Foreword to Eureka Press’s recently published study “Real Worlds of G.I. Gurdjieff” by Paul Beekman Taylor, at Gurdjieff’s teaching: for scholars and practitioners  an independent  site which looks at the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff and Gurdjieff-related studies with reference to both practitioners and scholars.’ Sophia Wellbeloved.

28 Nov. 2012




This year’s conference is one of a series of CCWE conferences that continue and deepen research specifically in the field of Western Esotericism and the Arts, with a primary focus on secrecy.

Participative panel discussions will focus on secrecy: its positive, negative and ambiguous aspects, its uses and abuses in relation to literature, music and the visual arts, these may be expressed in such themes as:

vision, transformation, truth, the divine
the unknown, the future, death, the afterlife
power, control, anti-establishment aims, membership of an elite
language, texts, places, teachers
revelation, interpretation, levels of consciousness, ambiguity
codes, ciphers, correspondences, magic, hypnotism, hallucination
in the context of their relevance to the political, cultural and social demands of their time.

Presentations will be published on the website ahead of the conference. Lighthouse Editions are considering publishing a book of the conference papers, but these should not be submitted before the conference.

Deadline for submission end of July
Please send an initial abstract of 100-200 words to:

Dr Sophia wellbeloved

THE INTRODUCTORY PAPER FOR EACH SESSION WILL NOT BE MORE THAN 15 MINUTES IN LENGTH and will be followed by an open discussion for the remaining thirty minutes so 45 minutes in total.
All papers will be published on the CCWE website ahead of the conference.

RESPONDENTS to papers are invited to send a brief email with their interests in the areas of:

Secrecy related to:
French Surrealism in the 1930s
19th Century Hermeticism and Magnetism
Musical Modes
Imagery drawnfrom Bibblical story and Greek myth
17th Century painting in the Netherlands

Respondents may be asked to prepare short Position Papers from which they may contribute during the relevant panel session. Accepted Position Papers will be published on the CCWE website.
All participants are welcome to take part in the panel discussion that follows the above address. If you have a specific interest in this area or a contribution you would like to make please send details to




Nicolas Poussin: The Birth of Bacchus, 1657, detail
(see the complete image below the Keynote Address)


An exploration of the genesis and evolution of Poussin’s schema for The Birth of Bacchus will be given by
JULIA CLEAVE MA member of the Academic Board of the Temenos Academy THE LURE OF SECRECY
For of the knowledges that contemplate the works of Nature, the holy philosopher hath said expressly; that the Glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out: as if the Divine Nature, according to the innocent and sweet play of children, which hide themselves to the end they may be found; took delight to hide his works, to the end they might be found out; and of his indulgence and goodness to mankind, had chosen the Soule of man to be his Play-fellow in this game.”
Francis Bacon Preface to the Advancement of Learning (1640)

Poussin, the Quadrivium and the Mysteries

The circle of learned men for whom Poussin painted regarded themselves in some ways as privileged persons, who had been initiated into mysteries unknown…incomprehensible to the vulgar. Anthony Blunt Nicolas Poussin The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts (1958)

Theon of Smyrna, writing in the 4th century CE, states in the midst of his Mathematics Useful for the Study of Plato: We can again compare philosophy to the initiation into things truly holy, and to the revelation of the authentic mysteries.

OED Definition of Theurgy:
2. The operation or intervention of a divine or supernatural agency in human affairs; the results of such action in the phenomenal world.

Poussin’s approach to his art was essentially theurgic. He conceived his compositions as a form of sacred theatre in which what is portrayed – an encounter between human and divine worlds – is intended (for those who have eyes to see) to move the soul of the viewer.

Bernini – after examining in detail, on his knees, the third painting in Poussins’s series of the Seven Sacraments Extreme Unction – declared: it has the same effect as a beautiful sermon to which one listens with rapt attention and after which one is left speechless, for one’s innermost being has been moved.

Poussin, himself, likened his art to the Greek theory of the musical modes: When all parts of the composition were assembled together in due proportion…there proceeded a power to breed various passions in the soul. In his final statement on the nature of his art he went further:

It is an imitation with lines and colours on any surface of all that is to be found under the sun. Its aim is delectation
. Not only is Poussin hinting here at his espousal of a form of solar mysticism but, in using the term ‘delectation’, he means not simply pleasure or delight, but is invoking St. Augustine’s notion of ‘delectatio bono’: a beatitude which leads to union with the divine.

Bernini’s phrase: left speechless recalls the Greek concept of arrhetos meaning ‘unspeakable’ or ‘inexpressible’ – a term from the lexicon of the mysteries which applies both to the injunction on initiates to keep secret the sacred rites – a necessary protection from the profane – but equally it implies the impossibility of conveying in speech such momentous experiential knowledge, or gnosis.

Whether Poussin is drawing for his subject-matter on Biblical story or Classical myth, he is concerned with such moments of epiphany or epopteia – with the dramas of initiation, trial, revelation and transformation which we associate with the Mysteries. The word mysteria, meaning secret rite or doctrine, was applied by the Church Fathers to the Christian sacraments as well as to the initiation ceremonies of the ancient world.

In the service of this aim, Poussin deploys the disciplines of the Quadrivium – the four subjects (literally the four ways) which were regarded by classical writers as pathways to spiritual enlightenment.

Hence the meticulous architectonics which underpin his art: a deployment of whole number ratios, root geometries and musical proportions which is analogous to a form of temple-building. As in the history of architecture, so in the history of art, knowledge of these mathematical subjects was regarded as a closely-guarded secret – what Luca Pacioli called, in his treatise on the Divine Proportion: secretissima scientia, the most secret science. De Divina Proportione – drawn largely from the work of Piero della Francesco – was illustrated by Leonardo and published in 1509. While all claims to the persistence of a tradition of speculative geometry in painting need to be judiciously made, there is clear evidence that, more than a century later, artists like Poussin (buon geometra) were still making conscious use of geometry in their compositions for what appear to be both symbolic and talismanic purposes.

Not only is Poussin concerned with Arithmetica, Geometria, and Harmonia; he also engages with the fourth of the Quadrivium subjects: Astrologia or Astronomia. In a number of his canvasses, through a subtle combination of ecliptic geometry, together with solar, planetary or zodiac imagery, he explores the symbolic links between microcosm and macrocosm – humanity and the visible world under the influence of super-sensible forces.

Academic approaches to Poussin’s art have a tendency to treat his subject-matter as fossilized cultural memes – the stock topoi of sacred or secular art – to be interpreted in socio-historical, psychological or aesthetic terms, rather than as possessing spiritual content. On Dante’s hermeneutic scale of the four levels of interpretation: literal/narrative, allegorical, moral and anagogical, modern scholarship seldom ventures beyond the third level. Our predominantly secular culture has difficulty in acknowledging transcendence: shying away from lived spiritual experience, from the possibility of visionary flights of soul.

A myth gets its animation from a mystery (Pico della Mirandola)

The interpretation of The Birth of Bacchus is a case in point. This ‘mysterious canvas’, originally painted for one of Poussin’s closest friends and fellow-artist, Jacques Stella, now hangs in the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard. It has given rise to some puzzlement among art historians. They are at pains to account for the artist’s decision to combine in one scene two disparate myths which appear unconnected by any narrative thread: the stories respectively of the Birth of Bacchus and the Death of Narcissus. Drawing on scientific ideas current among Poussin’s libertins contemporaries, as well as Renaissance traditions of mythography, their solution has been to interpret the picture as essentially an allegory of opposing physical processes of regeneration and decay in Nature. While this theme is undoubtedly present, an exclusive focus on natural history is too reductive, and forecloses on more esoteric readings of the composition. It is only when this is viewed in the light of metaphysical traditions that we discover a more profound rationale for Poussin’s ‘mysterious’ conception. His sophisticated schema encodes a complex pattern of alchemical and planetary symbolism, consistent with Neo-Platonic and Hermetic conceptions of cosmology and the transcendent destiny of the human soul. Further confirming this anagogical interpretation, the artist left behind a number of clues in the form of some mythographical notes, and in a more explicit detailing of his ideas in one of his preparatory sketches.

Poussin’s highly-charged and often enigmatic canvasses invite us to muse deeply on their esoteric import – holding out the promise of access to veiled or submerged hermetic truths. This is the lure of secrecy, implicit in Francis Bacon’s remarkable image of a concealed God, inviting human souls to be his Play-fellows in a game of divine hide-and-seek, de-coding the phenomenal world in search of Deus Absconditus, and, in the process, discovering their own true destinies. (Vere tu es Deus absconditus was the gnomic inscription given to a posthumous engraving by Claudine Stella of one of Poussin’s most striking works The Holy Family on the Steps.)

An exploration of the genesis and evolution of Pousin’s schema for The Birth of Bacchus will be the subject of Julia Cleave’s keynote address.



Nicolas Poussin: The Birth of Bacchus, 1657

JULIA CLEAVE (MA Oxon, MA Essex) is a member of the Academic Board of the Temenos Academy. As an independent scholar, she is currently conducting research into the encoding of the hermetic traditions in Renaissance and Seventeenth-century art and literature, including evidence for proto-masonic symbolism and ritual practice. In 2003 her proposal for a doctoral thesis on sacred geometry and the mystery traditions in the works of Nicolas Poussin was accepted by the School of Traditional Arts at the Prince of Wales Institute of Architecture. She has given lectures at the History of Astrology Seminar, the Theosophical Society, the School of Economic Science, the Jupiter Trust and the Temenos Academy.

Publications include:
A review of Friend to Mankind – Marsilio Ficino 1433-99 ed. Michael Shepherd in Temenos Academic Review 4 (Spring 2001)
Ficino’s Approach to Astrology as Reflected in Book VII of his Letters
Culture and Cosmos Volume 7 Number 2 (Autumn/Winter 2003)
Burlesquing the Brotherhood (Paper given at the 6th International Conference at the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre).
The Canonbury Papers Vol. 4: Seeking the Light – Freemasonry and Initiation (2007)
Of Hiram and Aymon – the Evolution of the Legend of the Third Degree
Transactions of the Manchester Association for Masonic Research Vol XCVIII [98] [2008].


Leverhulme GES

Universisties of Szeged and Budapest
Leverhulme Visiting Professor
Department of English, Communication, Media and Film
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, England

will respond to the Keynote Address.

Professor Gyorgy Szonyi
Selected Publications

6 monographs, 11 edited volumes, 91 articles in the fields of Renaissance research, English and Hungarian studies in periodicals, collections of essays, encyclopedias. Book reviews, essays, critiques on Hungarian culture and current European issues. Two novels (1983, 2002) and short stories

Gli angeli di John Dee. Roma: Tre Editori, 2004, 170 pages, 9 illustrations.

John Dee’s Occultism. Magical Exaltation Through Powerful Signs. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2004 (Series in Western Esoterism), 350 pages, 32 illustrations.

Pictura & Scriptura. Hagyományalapú kulturális reprezentációk 20. századi elméletei [Pictura & Scriptura: 20th-century Theories of Tradition-based Cultural Representations]. Szeged: JATEPress, 2004 (Ikonológia és muértelmezés 10), 324 pages, 54 illustrations.

Edited Books and Journal Issues:
“The Voices of the English Renaissance.” Special Issue, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies 11.1 (2005), 253 pages.

The Iconography of Power: Ideas and Images of Rulership on the English Renaissance Stage. Szeged: JATE Press, 2000 (Papers in English & American Studies 8), 214 pages, illustrated. With Rowland Wymer.

European Iconography East & West. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996 (Symbola & Emblemata 7), 263 pages, illustrated

Selected Articles and Book Chapters since 2001:
“The Dark Offsprings of Humanism: Erasmus, Reuchlin, and the Magical Renaissance.” In Marcell Sebök (ed.), Republic of Letters, Humanism, Humanities. Budapest: Collegium Budapest (Workshop Series 15), 2005, 107-25.

“John Dee as Cultural, Scientific, Apocalyptic Go-Between.” In Andreas Höfele, Werner von Koppenfels (ed.), Renaissance Go-Betweens. Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2005, 88-104.

“Occult Semiotics and Iconology: Michael Maier’s Alchemical Emblems.” In Karl Enenkel – Arnoud Visser (ed.). Mundus Emblematicus: Studies in Neo-Latin Emblem Books. Turnhout: Brepols, 2003 (Imago Figurata, Studies 4), 301-25.

“Le intuizioni di Aby Warburg alla luce delle sfide postmoderne”. In Carlo Bertozzi (ed.), Aby Warburg e le metamorfosi degli antichi dèi. Modena: Franco Cosimo Panini, 2002, 183-203.


TESSEL M. BAUDUIN MA University of Amsterdam

elite knowledge and the avant-garde in French surrealism of the 1930s

Andre Breton

André Breton

In the first Manifeste du Surréalisme André Breton, founder of surrealism, states that he will reveal the “secrets of the magical surrealist art”, subsequently describing different surrealist techniques. In this paper I will investigate some of these “secrets”, focusing predominantly upon automatism, visual alchemy and other techniques for creating surrealist art, combining this furthermore with a review of the concept of secrecy in surrealism. As I will show, concepts of secrecy, elite knowledge, or even of gnosis, were prevalent in the art theoretical discourse of surrealism in the 1920s and ‘30s (the particular scope of this paper), and concerned reception of art, creation of art, as well as exhibition practices. Secrecy in surrealism was intimately tied to its avant-garde tenets, and thus to the internal paradox of the avant-garde: the simultaneous need for elitism and for revelation. The secret of surrealism is only meant for a select few and the approval of the general public needs to be avoided at all cost – but then, how can the surrealist revolution be inclusive and reach out to all? As I will make clear, the particular “secrets of the magical surrealist art” provide an answer.


Tessel M. Bauduin, MA, is a historian of art and culture. She is currently working at the University of Amsterdam, in a double position as lecturer and PhD-student, at the department History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents. After having taught art history for a couple of years, she is now teaching various courses in religious studies and history of hermetic philosophy. Her PhD-research is concerned with the interaction of esotericism and avant-garde art movements in general, and with the reception of esoteric sources in the discourse of Parisian surrealism in the 1920s and 1930s in particular. Her thesis is expected to be published in 2012. Tessel’s freelance activities include lecturing and teaching in art history. For more, please see and



Kunstgeschichtliches Institut der Goethe Universität Frankfurt


Art Cabinet: Willem van Haecht 1628


In the 15th century, scholars, patrons and artists (re-) introduced the hermetic tradition and with that the Order of the inspirati into European thought. Even in the southern Netherlands, especially in Antwerp, esoteric literature was studied and printed very often.
Nevertheless, with the counter-reformation in Antwerp there were frequent bans, and legal processes against these philosophical-religious currents. A famous process took place against the painter Otto van Veen, teacher of Pieter Paul Rubens. My paper explores the influence of esoteric traditions in the Antwerp School in the early 17th century. It focuses on Willem van Haecht ‘s Art Cabinet painting from 1628 that depicts paintings with hidden Hermetic-Christian and Paracelisian contents and asks why it was favored by elitist thinking and why esoteric interests had to remain secret. Haechts Art Cabinet of illusion – studied alongside the Corpus Hermeticum and little examined theoretical treatises by Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo or Pieter Paul Rubens – seems to display an elitist and secret microcosm within the Antwerp society.




The photographic image gives a new form of ‘life’ – or in any case, a new ‘state of things’, a new way of being a thing – to something available out of our visible field, out of our hands, out of our immediate apprehension. It is life transported to another world by the sensitivity of the photographic plate. Michel Frizot

And even if he be dead. He will come back. Sooner or later. He is eternal. Savitri Devi from Pilgrimage (on the return of the Hitler Avatar)

Since the cataclysm of the Second World War that ended in Europe with the death in his bunker of Adolf Hitler, there has arisen, out of the ashes, an underground and secret esoteric movement where, according to Nicholas Goodrick Clarke, certain individuals have “transformed the negative attributes of Nazism into a cult of cosmic significance.” Drawn by the lure of Ariosophist myths and dreams of a resurrection of Hitlerist ideals there are some for whom the relics of the Third Reich are more than historical curiosities associated with a war that ended more than sixty years ago. To those devotees of Esoteric Nazism objects associated with Hitler and in particular photographs, have become fetishized as iconic links with his presence. I am specifically interested in the use of the Hitler image, the postcard photograph and photographic portrait, which works as both index and icon. It seems evident that there is an enormous interest in collecting ‘relics’ from the Nazi era (ranging from badges and items of clothing to dinner plates) but beyond the remit of the specialist, historic or military collector there is also an esoteric impetus to access objects with direct links to Hitler for a ‘spiritual’ reason. This is particularly true of photographic representations of Hitler that suggest a closeness to the photographed subject without having to be personal objects directly linked to Hitler the man (usually rare or with a high price tag). This notion of the photograph as a piece of material culture carrying with it a deeper association is evident in this quote by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning:

It is not merely the likeness which is precious in such cases – but the association and the sense of nearness involved in the thing…the fact of the very shadow of the person lying there fixed forever! It is the very sanctification of portraits.

It is this transmutation where the photograph becomes a religious icon that intrigues me. I have been exploring aspects of Esoteric Hitlerism as a Nazi cult where the use and iconic transformation of images of the ‘Führer’ play a major role. Esoteric Nazism has developed in a covert but broad form since the end of the Second World War. Inspired by the writings of devotees such as Miguel Serrano and Savitri Devi, Esoteric Hitlerists regard Adolf Hitler as a Messiah, deified after his Berlin ‘sacrifice’; or even as the tenth and final Avatar of Vishnu.
Again according to Savitri Devi, Hitler was:
 …the god-like Individual of our times; the Man against Time; the greatest European of all times. (From the dedication to her book, The Lightning and the Sun).

This research has developed out of my examination of the use of photography as a pseudo-scientific tool in areas such as criminology, colonialism, eugenics and racial science; and the origins of such ideas in esoteric theories dating back to the Classical era. My specific interest here lies in the analogue photographic trace as related to such ‘religious’ practices – a small but significant area within the devotions of Esoteric Hitlerism.

My paper will briefly explore the relationship between the material connectivity of photography and the subject recorded and in particular the iconic status attributed to such images as ‘unholy’ relics for these secretive Esoteric Hitlerists.


Dr. Christopher Webster was born in the UK in 1965. In 1982 his family moved to South Africa. Webster studied art and art history as an undergraduate and postgraduate in South Africa. In 1989 after graduating from art school, he lived and worked as an artist and lecturer in the Johannesburg area for several years. In 1996 he was appointed lecturer in fine art at Aberystwyth University’s, School of Art. Membership of international research committees and editorial boards has included and includes: The South African Association of Art Historians, Association of Studies in Esotericism, European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism, Overseas Advisor to Faculty of Art, Vaal University of Technology (South Africa), international editorial board of Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, international editorial board of the South African Journal of Photography. Most recent contributions to books include chapters for: The Nineteenth Century Encyclopaedia of Photography, Routledge, (2007) and Esotericism, Art and Imagination, MSU press (2008). As evidenced by international exhibitions and conference papers, Webster continues to develop, with his PhD and Masters students, alternative approaches to photographic practices (both chemically and conceptually). Webster’s most recent practice is centred on the production of short 16mm films that include stop motion animation and manipulation of the film surface. Areas of research and research supervision covers: (specifically) – occult and esoteric applications of photography (including physiognomy, spirit photography, documentation of esoteric events, photographs as evidence of the supernatural), the staged and manipulated photograph (especially in photo-collage and photomontage). Webster has investigated and adapted the iconography of the photographic image and in recent years he has participated in many group and solo shows including exhibitions in Johannesburg, Lancaster, Cape Town, London, Tel Aviv, New York, Chicago, Berlin, Baltimore, Cardiff and Pretoria. His recent art practice work centres on 16mm film experimentations. He is continuing to work on making new short films whilst concurrently researching material for a book exploring the use of faked photographs and photographs of doubtful provenance produced during the Second World War.

One person exhibitions/screenings

· Cipher – Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, UK, 1 October – 19 November, 2005; Theatre Clwyd, Mold, UK, 21 January – 4 March, 2006; St Michaels Theatre, New Ross, Ireland, April, 2006; Garter Lane, Waterford, Ireland, 8 May – 5 June, 2006; UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa, 4 July – 30 September, 2006; Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town, South Africa, 16 April – 4 May, 2007
· Visions and Traces – School of Art Gallery, UWA, Aberystwyth, UK, 2006
· Fragments – Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, USA, 2002, Gallery International, Baltimore, USA, 2003
· Sleepwalkers – Gallery 1885, London, UK, 2000; School of Art Galleries, UWA, Aberystwyth, UK, 2001
· Riemland’s Edge – (part of africainside during Photofestival Noorderlight 2000) Museum het Princessehof, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, 2000
· Gnosis – Folly Gallery, Lancaster, UK, November 1999 – January 2000; 100 X C (online exhibition), The Month of Photography, Cape Town, South Africa, 1999-2000
· Memory of the Fall – School of Art Galleries, UWA, Aberystwyth, UK, February – March 1998; MuseuMAfrica, Johannesburg, South Africa, May – June 1998; Durban Centre for Photography, Durban, South Africa, July – August 1998
· Roadworks – Goldfields Gallery, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, 1993

Group exhibitions/screenings

• Beyond Words, (six person group show), Safehouse Gallery, Belfast, UK 24/01 – 07/02 2009.
• Film House, filmmakers in Wales, National Library of Wales Drwm, 29/01/2009.
• Outcasting, Season 4 ( August to September, Cardiff, UK, 2008.
• Imaging the Bible, Aberystwyth University School of Art, Aberystwyth, UK, 2008.
• Stone, Plate, Grease, Water – International Contemporary Lithography, The Museum of Modern Art Wales, Machynlleth, 12 March – 12 May 2007; Bankside Gallery, (next to Tate Modern), London, 14 August – 27 August 2007; The Naughton Gallery, Queens University Belfast, 4 September – 29 September 2007; Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, Cwmbran,
8 March – 26 April 2008
• Prints of Wales, Belger Arts Centre, Kansas City, USA, 2007
• fforma, Theatre Clwyd, Mold, UK, 2007
• fforma, Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, UK, 2006
• Originals 06, The Mall Galleries, London, UK, 2006
• Aberystwyth Printmakers, Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth, UK, 2005
• fforma, Stark Gallery, London, UK, 2005
• Aberystwyth Printmakers, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, UK, 2005
• fforma, Theatre Clwyd, Mold, UK, 2005
• Swansea Print Workshop, auction of original prints, The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Museum, Swansea, UK, 2004
• fforma, Theatre Mwldan, Cardigan, UK, 2004
• Contemporary Art from Around the World , Gallery International, Baltimore, USA, 2003
• fforma, Y Tabernacl, Museum of Modern Art Wales, Machynlleth, November – February 2003; St.David’s Hall, Cardiff, February – March, 2004
· Group Show, Gallery international, Baltimore, USA, 2003
• Toko, fforma exhibition at Toko, Aberystwyth, UK, 2003
· Exhibition of International Assemblage Artists, Gallery 24, Berlin, Germany, 2003
· Group Show, Gallery International, Baltimore, USA, 2002
· Harlech Biennale (Print Open), Theatr Ardudwy, Harlech, UK, 2002
· Premier Exhibition, Gallery International, Baltimore, USA, 2002
· Emerging Artists 2002, Limner Gallery, New York, USA, 2002
· Exposed, Fulton Street Gallery, Troy, New York, USA, 2001
· Identikit, Brixton Art Gallery, London, UK, 2001
· Current Works 2001, Society for Contemporary Photography Gallery, Kansas City, USA, 2001
· Studios Midwest A-I-R Program, Knox College Arts Building, Galesburg, USA, 2001
· fforma, Courtroom Gallery, Lampeter, UK, 2001
· Emerging Artists 2001, Limner Gallery, New York, USA, 2001
· International Young Art 2001 – international group exhibition finalist: Sotheby’s, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 2001; Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York, USA, January 2001
· The Welsh Lens, international touring group exhibition: Parco e Museo Genna Maria Villanovaforru, Sardinia, September 1999; Galeria Zirpoli, Belizona, Switzerland, May – June 1998; Y Tabernacl, Machynlleth, UK, October – November 1997
· Through the Glass, Darkly – School of Art Galleries, Aberystwyth, UK, 1996
· Images with a Twist – The Photo-Arte Gallery, London, UK, 1996
· International Environment Week Exhibition – United Banking Hall, Vereeniging, South Africa, 1994
· Art School Staff Exhibition, Goldfields Gallery, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, 1994
· Drawing With Light – ‘Pushing the Limits of Photography’- ICA, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1993
· Art School Staff Exhibition, Goldfields Gallery, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, 1993
· Vaal Triangle Artists – ICA, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1993
· Art School Staff Exhibition, Goldfields Gallery, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, 1992
· Kaleidoscope – Gallery 88, Sasolburg, South Africa, 1992
· Rolfe’s Impressions – Grahamstown Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa, 1991
· Anniversary Exhibition of Photography – Goldfields Gallery, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, 1991


· Studios Midwest A-I-R program, Galesburg, USA, 2001

Gallery representation

· Gallery International, Baltimore, USA
· Clampart, New York, USA


· Kato-Ezell Collection, West Virginia Center for Creative Photography, Elkins, USA
· MuseuMAfrica, Johannesburg, South Africa
· The Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
· School of Art Collections, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, UK
· Axis database, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK
· Many private collections (international)

Exhibition catalogues

• Prints of Wales, exhibition catalogue, Belger Arts Centre, Kansas City, 2007
• Cipher, exhibition catalogue, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 2005
· fforma, exhibition catalogue, UWA & Museum of Modern Art Wales, 2003
· Fragments, exhibition catalogue, Artemisia Gallery Chicago & Gallery International Baltimore, 2002
· International Young Art 2001, exhibition catalogue by Artlink and Sotheby’s, 2001
· Riemland’s Edge, Catalogue published, Noordelicht Fotofestival, 2000
· Riemland’s Edge, CD-ROM published, Noordelicht Fotofestival, 2000
· Sleepwalkers, exhibition catalogue, a Gallery 1885 publication, London, 2000
· Memory of the Fall, exhibition catalogue, UWA School of Art & MuseuMAfricA, 1998
· The Welsh Lens, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art Wales, 1997

Publications, conference papers, public lectures/workshops

• Paper delivered ‘ Face of the Divine: The Esoteric roots of Physiognomic Photography’ at the conference Hidden Sources: Western Esoteric influence on the arts, The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Western Esotericism, Cambridge, October 2008.
• Spirit, Ghost and Psychic Photography, in the Nineteenth Century Encyclopaedia of Photography, Routledge, 2007.
• Paper delivered ‘Fragments in Photography’ at the conference Cultural Histories and Vocabularies of the Fragment in Text and Image c.1300-2000, Aberystwyth University, June 2007.
• Cipher: Staging the Mind in the Photographic Construct, South African Journal of Photography, 1 (3), 2006.
• Gallery talk and exhibition walkthrough (x 4), University of South Africa Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa, July 2006
• Paper delivered ‘Photography, bastard of science or esoteric art?’ at the conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism, at the University of California, Davis, Davis, June 2006
• Gallery talk, Garter Lane Arts Centre, Waterford, Ireland, May 2006
• Public lecture and gallery talk, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, UK, October 2005
• Analysis of Love, image reproduced in The William and Mary Review, Williamsburg, Virginia, Volume 42, 2004
• Paper delivered ‘Drawn from Nature; Hermetic references in the early photographs of W. H. F. Talbot ’ at the conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism, at Michigan State University, East Lansing, June 2004
· Public Lecture, Galesburg Civic Art Center, Galesburg Illinois, July 2001
· Images from the Past, (book review), Inscape No 41, spring 2001
· What is and What is Not, Inscape, No. 40, winter 2000/1
· The Portrait Cabinet of Dr Bleek: Anthropometric Photographs by Early Cape Photographers, in Critical Arts: A journal for Cultural Studies (Murdoch University, Perth, Australia & University of Natal, Durban), South Africa, March 2000, ISSN0256004
· Paper delivered ‘Spiritualism and Photography’ at the conference Visions, Dreams and Nightmares at Marymont University, Washington DC, March 2000
· Robert Greetham Photographs 1978 – 1998, Inscape, No.32, winter 1999
· Seeing the Odalisque: Aspects of the colonial gaze in South Africa 1845 – 1975, in de Arte, University of South Africa art journal, South Africa, July 1999, ISSN00043389
· Paper delivered ‘A Woman of Sofala’ at the conference Encounters with Photography organised by the University of Cape Town and the South African Museum, Cape Town, July 1999
· Gallery talk, School of Art, Aberystwyth, UK, February 1998
· ‘The Sale of Dante’s Dream to the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool’, University of Michigan Press; The Rossetti Archive (Internet archive devoted to the life and work of D. G. Rossetti and compiled by Jerome McGann), 1998
· Public Lecture, ‘Rossetti and Hall Caine’, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, September 1998
· Public workshop accompanying The Welsh Lens, Y Tabernacl, Machynlleth, UK, October 1997
· Paper delivered ‘Memento Mori: The dichotomy of the desire to marry the machine (camera) to the spiritual in an increasingly secular age’ at the conference Shamanism and Belief in European Photography organised by The European Society for the History of Photography, Helsinki, October 1997
· Africa Obscura, University of Pretoria Art Journal, Vol. 2 (2), June 1997
· Photographing Anything, Inscape, No.24, summer 1997
· The Use of Metaphor in Landscape Photography, Inscape, No.12, winter 1995
· Photography in South Africa, Inscape, No.13, spring 1995
· Life in the Liberated Zone, (book review), Inscape, No.13, spring 1995
· Black Dog (short story), in Probe, the quarterly publication of Science Fiction South Africa, No.81, South Africa, September 1990


· Review of the exhibition Cipher in the Cape Argus, 29 April 2007
· Review of the exhibition Fragments in the Baltimore Sun, 11 February 2003
· Television interview for Ghosthunters a program for French TV channel 3, and the Discovery Channel, 2002 (broadcast 2003)
· Register Mail interview whilst an artist-in-residence at Studios Midwest, Galesburg, Illinois, July 29 2001
· Interview on the radio station the Laser, WLSR, Galesburg , Illinois, July 30 2001
· Exhibit-A, issue 6, September 2000, ISSN14629496
· Soul Searching (the work of Christopher Webster), in (not only) Blue, No.26, April 2000, ISSN13230026


· National Diploma (distinction visual communication), School of Art and Design, Vaal Triangle Technikon, South Africa, 1989
· National Higher Diploma, cum laude & academic colours, School of Art and Design, Vaal Triangle Technikon, South Africa, 1993
· PhD, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, School of Art, 2006

Other experience

· Lecturer in fine art, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK, 1996 – present
· On the Editorial Board of the South African Journal of Photography, 2006 – present
· On the Editorial board of Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, 1999 – present
· On the International Editorial board of Consciousness, Literature and the Arts & Rodopi publishers (Amsterdam)
· Lecturer in photography, Vaal Triangle Technikon, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, 1991 – 1994
· Guest-curator, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa, 1992 – 1993
· Liaison Officer for the visual arts, Vaal Triangle Culture Coalition, South Africa 1993
· Photographer’s Assistant, Michael Meyersfeld Studio – Johannesburg, South Africa 1990 -1991

DR JON WOODSON Howard University, Washington
The Lure of Secrecy for Writers in Early Twentieth Century America


Lighthouse Editions are most grateful for the charitable donation we have received from Education Services that have allowed us to offer some funding towards fees for presenters.


REGISTRATION FEE is £135 which includes lunch and refreshments during the day and the conference dinner in the evening. This can be paid as

£135.00 by UK checuqe
£143.00 (£135 plus bank charges £8.00) via bank transfer to the UK from Europe
or £138 via Paypal

details will be sent by email. Registration fees must be paid before a place at the conference, or can be confirmed. Places will be limited so early application is advised.

Friday 9th October
On the evening before the conference there will be an informal get together for those who have already arrived in Cambridge at the Double Tree Hilton. This is a superb hotel in the historic Cambridge city centre, beside the river Cam.

Hilton 3

We will gather in the Bar which looks out onto the Cam, you can ask for us at the reception desk.

Hilton map

Granta Place, Mill Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1RT
01223 259 988

See more info at:

see map at;xx=1300;yy=720;mt=c;mx=1344;my=862;sx=4;tl=Cambridge%20University%20Library

Wofson Court is on Clarkson Road at the top of the map off Grange Road.

Wolfson Court Cambridge CB3 0EH
Girton College’s Wolfson Court in central Cambridge is built around seven courtyards, within easy walking distance of the city centre and the University Library.

wOLFSON COURTfloralwalkway

Wolfson Court


Andrew Brown

Chairing the conference for the day is

a liberal Christian minister, a University Chaplain to Cambridge University, Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge Regional College and also a professional jazz double-bass player. He teaches jazz/rock bass at Anglia Ruskin University and occasionally teach subjects related to inter- and multi-faith matters for the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge.

He writes of the connection between Western-esotericism and the Socinian/Unitarian Christian traditions: ‘that there were a number of figures within both the Radical Reformation and the later Radical Enlightenment periods who, for a variety of reasons, were particularly interested in neo-Platonism and the Kabbalah. In affirming Jesus’ humanity and the Unity of God the Socinian/Unitarian tradition (initially born out of an interesting mix of Italian Renaissance Humanism and Polish Anabaptism) naturally found some of the fruits of this study particularly interesting because it opened up new theological and philosophical possibilities for a genuine reconnection with Judaism and Islam, both of which also denied the divinity of Christ.’


Friday 9th October
from 6.30 – 8.00
informal get together
in Hilton Bar Mill Lane

Registration and welcome

9.30 – 10.30
First panel
Julia Cleave Keynote
Gyorgy Szonyi responds

10.30-11.00 coffee

11.00- 12.30
Second panel
11.00 – 11.45
1st presenter – 15 mins presentation 30 mins discussion
11.45 -12.30
2nd presenter – 15 mins presentation 30 mins discussion
12.30 – 1.30

1.30 – 3.00
Third panel
1st presenter – 15 mins presentation 30 mins discussion
2.15- 3.00
2nd presenter – 15 mins presentation 30 mins discussion

3.00 – 3.30

3.30 – 4.00

4.00 – 5.00
reflections on the day

5.00 Close




23 Trumpington Street, Cambridge

As we go along Trumpington Street towards Brown’s for our conference dinner you will see what looks like a wide open gutter, on both sides of the street. This is known as Hobson’s Conduit and was built from 1610 to 1614 by Thomas Hobson to bring fresh water into the city of Cambridge from springs at Nine Wells near the village of Great Shelford. There is more info about this and on Hobson himself, from whom we get the phrase Hobson’s choice’ on Wikipedia,



Girton College Tower

4.30pm There will be a visit guided to Girton College and chapel with special reference to the scholar Annabel Kitson, and poet and Fellow of Girton Kathleen Raine. We will be shown around by Rev Dr Malcolm Guite who is Chaplin at Girton, and was our Keynote Speaker at last year’s conference. After an English cup of tea in the Fellows common room, there will be the opportunity of going to Evensong, where we will hear Girton’s particularly fine choir.

Raine was a research fellow at Girton College from 1955 to 1961, and in 1962 she was the Andrew Mellon Lecturer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. She taught at Harvard for at least one course about Myth and Literature offered to teachers and professors in the summer. She also spoke on Yeats and Blake and other topics at the Yeats School in Sligo, Ireland in the summer of 1974. A professor at Cambridge and the author of a number of scholarly books, she was an expert on Coleridge, Blake and Yeats.



If you can stay for a few days, either before or after the conference there are many wondereful buildings to visit and places to go to in Cambridge which this year is celebrating the 800 years since it’s founding.

Websites which give useful info about where to go and what to see in Cambridge:

“The name “Cambridge” summons breathtaking images – the “Backs” carpeted with spring flowers, Kings College Chapel, punting on the river Cam, and of course the calm of the College buildings. The City known worldwide as a centre for academic excellence, retains much of the atmosphere of a bustling market town, with its narrow streets, and cobbled market place. Home to 100,000 people, it is also a centre for technological expertise, has a varied arts programme, and many good shops, including fine book shops. The City, is richly served with museums and galleries, from the Fitzwilliam Museum, with a fine collection of paintings and works of art, Folk Museum and many collections of scientific and classical interest, available in the University Museums. Close to the city centre, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden is well worth a visit. A forty acre paradise of plants, the garden includes a lake, tropical glasshouses, Systematic Beds and Winter Garden. Cambridge with its’ winding streets and splendid architecture has much to offer at any time of the year; it is also the ideal centre for visiting the surrounding country side – the historic houses of Wimpole Hall and Audley End are close by, Ely Cathedral – the “Ship of the Fens”, peaceful villages with riverside pubs; the rolling wooded countryside made famous by the artist John Constable, are all a short drive away.”

This is probably the most comprehensive website giving details of

hotels and bed and breakfast, self catering,
(you can also find other internet sites with bed and breakfast lists). Accommodation is always booked up in Cambridge and the week of the conference will be an expecially busy one as the new academic yer is beginning and many parents will be staying in town.

include Gardens, and nature reserves.

among their Museums, Art Galleries listing are:

Kettle’s Yard House’

For sixteen years, Kettle’s Yard was the home of Jim Ede, a former curator at the Tate Gallery, London, and his wife, Helen. It houses Ede’s collection of art, mostly of the first half of the twentieth century. The collection includes paintings by Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Christopher Wood, David Jones, Joan Miró and many others, along with sculpture by artists including Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. Paintings and sculpture are interlaced with furniture, glass, ceramics and natural objects. Ede’s vision of Kettle’s Yard was of a place that was not ” an art gallery or museum, nor . . . simply a collection of works of art reflecting my taste or the taste of a given period. It is, rather, a continuing way of life from these last fifty years, in which stray objects, stones, glass, pictures, sculpture, in light and in space, have been used to make manifest the underlying stability . . .” Each afternoon (apart from Mondays) visitors can ring the bell and ask to look around.

Kettle’s Yard, Castle Stree,t Cambridge CB3 0AQ
Tel +44 (0)1223 352124

The Fitzwilliam Museum

from their website:

“History of the Collections”

“Few museums in the world contain on a single site collections of such variety and depth. Writing in his Foreword to the catalogue of the exhibition for Treasures from the Fitzwilliam which toured the United States in 1989-90, the then Director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, wrote that “like the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam addresses the history of culture in terms of the visual forms it has assumed, but it does so from the highly selective point of view of the collector connoisseur. Works of art have been taken into the collection not only for the historical information they reveal, but for their beauty, excellent quality, and rarity… It is a widely held opinion that the Fitzwilliam is the finest small museum in Europe”.


gives details of colleges you can visit see their entry on St John’s College below:

About St John’s College St John’s College was founded in 1511 by Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII. The second largest of the constituent Colleges of the University of Cambridge, it has about 135 Fellows, 530 undergraduates and 300 graduate students. The total current membership of the College, comprising in essence all those who have studied here, stands at around 12,000. Visiting St John’s The College is open to visitors from Saturday, 7 March 2009 to Sunday, 25 October 2009 (10am to 5.30pm)

They also list details for


Trinity College Chapel

Trinity College: founded in 1546 of particular interest to visitors are the Great Court (scene of the Great Court Run ) and the Wren Library



Kings College : was founded in 1441 and attracts many visitors each year especially to see the Kings College Chapel. If you like walking you can download a one hour MP3 walking tour of Cambridge from



The CAMBRIDGE CENTRE for the study of WESTERN ESOTERICISM is independent of any academic or esoteric communities, the directors share an interest in the need for a wider dialogue between scholars and practitioners in the field of Western Esotericism and in the establishment of a secular space in which an interdisciplinary network can thrive.. From 2009 CCWE has operated within Lighthouse editions Limited, a small publishing company Directors: Dr Sophia Wellbeloved, Jeremy Cranswick – see

Lighthouse Editions are most grateful for the charitable donation we have received from Education Services.



January 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm


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